Document imaging systems scan paper documents to create electronic images (like pictures). Rather than filing paper documents in file cabinets, organizations store their electronic images on computer systems. Individual documents or files can be instantly located by entering index information (e.g. social security number or account number) using an on-line query screen. The system displays the documents and related data.

After the paper has been scanned and indexed, it is stored temporarily and then destroyed rather than being stored permanently in file cabinets. ECM software stores scanned images as industry-standard TIFF or PDF files. It also stores electronic files in their native format such as Word Documents (.doc), Excel Spreadsheets (.xls), Adobe Acrobat Files (.pdf), Text Files (.txt) or any other electronic format. This allows the imaging system to store and organize all forms of communication with customers, vendors, or employees in electronic folders. The imaging system enforces the organization’s security policies so that users may only access files they are authorized to view.